Conserving energy in Ontario? That’ll cost you…

Image result for photo clothes dryer

Use it at night and pay big; use it in the day and pay more!

Toronto Hydro and Hydro One want more money—because we conserve!

Not everybody saves their hydro bills, but I do, and what a surprise! I have proof Toronto Hydro wants even more money from us ratepayers, perhaps to ensure that they continue to make above market profits to continue paying large dividends to their owners (the City of Toronto) and to protect (and increase?) the bonuses paid to executives.

I recently compared my Toronto Hydro bill of July 16, 2014 to the bill for July 25, 2011.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that our consumption had fallen by 760 kWh, or 19.1%.

Surely we would be rewarded for conservation. Alas, no: the bill was actually $60.33 (12.5%) higher than our three-year old bill.

In fact, the per/kWh rate increased 39.1% in just three years for Toronto Hydro customers, increases presumably blessed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the regulatory body that oversees the sector.

It turns out that the OEB is a fan of inclusiveness and recently ran an idea up the flagpole that would do away with the per/kWh charge for the “delivery” portion of our electricity bills.  This was described by John Spears in the Toronto Star on June 17, 2014: “ Householders should pay their local hydro utility a fixed monthly amount for electricity delivery, no matter how much power they use, a draft report by the Ontario Energy Board proposes.”

Apparently, a review process started in late 2012  and a number of parties submitted views, but the OEB only offered three choices:

  1. A single monthly charge which is the same for all consumers within the rate class;
  2. A fixed monthly charge with the size of the charge based on the size of the electrical connection;  and
  3. A fixed monthly charge where the size of the charge is based on use during peak hours.

The local distribution companies loved  number 1; the submission from Hydro One outlined the effect on their customers which would hit the lowest user to the worst extent.  Some of the price increases projected would increase costs by over 400% for the lowest users but decrease costs for the larger consumers penalizing the most vulnerable.  The CLD (Coalition of Large Distributors) also support  option 1, noting: “In this regard, Proposal 1 represents the most easily implemented of the three options. The CLD believes that in order for a fixed rate design to achieve the Board’s goal of providing consumers with tools for managing their costs, consumer education and bill-redesign are critical success factors.”

Based on the results, providing ratepayers with “ tools for managing” our costs simply costs us more!

The LDCs generally loved the OEB’s concept but dissenters were also evident as several groups opposed it and suggested that the “conservation” push evident for so many years under the Liberal “rule” was in jeopardy.

“Conservation” also reminded me of an article jointly published with Scott Luft on Energy Probe which, coincidentally, occurred almost three years ago.  The article articulated the cost of  “conservation” and contained this quote from former Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty: “Our government will make it possible for Ontarians in every home, business and government office to save energy, save their hard-earned money and save our environment … Smart meters, together with more flexible pricing, would allow Ontarians to save money if they run appliances in off-peak hours.”

It now appears that saving our “hard-earned money” has absolutely nothing to do with “conservation” despite the Liberal government and unbridled endorsement from the Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller.

Should this OEB “one-size-fits-all” idea proceed, we should expect rates to head higher with the benefits flowing to large consumers at the expense of the small ones.

Could be a gain for the marijuana “grow-ops” as they seem to have suffered from high power rates along with Ontario’s legitimate businesses, as noted in a recent Global News report!

Building Ontario “up,” says Kathleen Wynne and her government; I guess that means, starting with higher bills for everyone.

Parker Gallant,

July 30, 2014

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.


NextEra to hold community liaison meeting tonight: East Durham wind farm

“We know that good planning involves the community. We are establishing a Community Liaison Committee … to discuss key aspects of the East Durham Wind Energy Centre,” says wind power developer NextEra, about the 23-megawatt power project approved last January.

The first community liaison meeting takes place tonight, according to reports from local residents. See the NextEra ad here.

The green mirage: Toronto school board gets free roof repairs for solar panels — or do they?

Toronto School Board flunks out
Toronto School Board flunks out

Canada’s largest school board, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), is getting an F on management practices.  Ontario’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Energy must also receive a failing grade.

It starts with Toronto’s public schools having leaky roofs.  The TDSB, with much fanfare May 2011, found the Holy Grail when they struck a deal with AMP Solar Limited Partnership for solar panels on school roofs.  TDSB thought the deal with AMP would result in free roof repairs on 450 schools, and, after AMP recovered the cost of the repairs, TDSB would also receive 14.5% of the solar power revenue generated from the Feed-In Tariff or FIT contracts they hoped to obtain from the OPA (Ontario Power Authority).  On paper it sounded wonderful; TDSB’s Director of Education Chris Spence said,  “This is a win-win for everyone involved.”

What he meant was, it would be a losing proposition for Ontario’s ratepayers.

What has happened since that announcement shows someone didn’t do their math homework or anticipate what might go wrong.

One year later: there were delays as the rules under the FIT program changed, creating lower prices for roof-top solar, and then McGuinty prorogued the Legislature.  The Toronto Sun quoted Chris Bolton, TDBS’s chair, confessing the Board didn’t have an alternate plan.  The story went on to say the Ontario government “encouraged” the TDSB to turn to FIT as a resolution to its roof repair backlog.   It is not clear if that suggestion came from the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Energy.  If it was, it was as a neat budget gambit to fool the taxpayers while sticking it to the ratepayers.   Three weeks prior to the Sun article the Ministry of Education froze new construction approvals, “citing concerns the TDSB was going over budget on building projects and in danger of not wiping out an existing $50 million capital deficit.”

A few “snags”

Fast forward July 25, 2014: the reporter who wrote the Toronto Sun story wrote one for the National Post  headlined  “Solar panel upgrades for public schools hit snags”.  The article infers “the costs” to repair the roofs are “higher than first pegged” and goes on to explain, “That’s because of greater-than-expected costs to the board’s private partner-School Top Solar LP-for roofing, installing the panels and fees to Toronto Hydro for hooking up to its power grid.”  It is unclear who School Top Solar LP is—the original TDSB partner was AMP Solar Limited Partnership, but perhaps they flipped the project to take a nice profit (as has happened with so many companies) that have obtained FIT contracts).

The result of this wonder story is that the most TDSB will get out of this free deal will be to replace one-sixth (720,000 sq. ft.) of the 4.3 million square feet of roofs.    They can also kiss goodbye to the 14.5% energy revenue Chris Spence thought they would get.

Let’s see where the mistakes were made. First, the math on the 66 MW that will be installed: based on the original roof-top solar prices ($700 per megawatt hour), the 66 MW could have generated in excess of $40 million annually and $806 million over the 20-year life of the contract. The developer (AMP) claimed the 66 MW would produce enough electricity to power 6,000 average homes, which means 57,600 megawatt hours (MWh) of power yearly.

Now the roof repair costs: roof replacement repairs to the 4.3 million square feet would run to $8 or $9 per sq. ft., meaning total costs would be in the $40 million range.  Capital cost of solar per MW is $5 million (approximately) as estimated by the U.S. EIA, so 66 MW would have cost $330 million making total costs (including roof repairs) about $370 million and recovery of the cost outlays (including maintenance) should have taken nine to ten years.

If it looks too good to be true, maybe…

The reduction in the FIT rates threw the “free” roof idea into jeopardy. It now looks like the TDSB will have to go cap in hand to the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, if they want those leaking roofs fixed, without making the Board’s $50-million capital deficit disappear.

What’s funny is that now, as reality hits, a few of the education board trustees interviewed for the National Post said they actually want to blame the school principals (some of them had requested adjustments to the placement of the equipment used to hook up the panels to Toronto Hydro’s electricity grid).

Perhaps Ms. Sandals will solve the TDSB dilemma by getting the teachers unions to back down on their demands for raises and pension benefits until the roof leaks have been plugged!

This is another example of the many logic failures brought to Ontario by the Liberal government and its push for renewable energy on a large-scale!

Parker Gallant,

July 28, 2014

 The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.


Desecration of Ontario’s North by wind ‘farms’: needless


Lake Superior. Montreal River Weather Radar Station, upper right corner. Foreground, ridge where wind turbines will be places for Bow Lake Wind Farm.

Once again, we do not usually re-post from blogs but this is an excellent summary of the recent appeals of the Goulais Bay and Bow Lake power projects, together with excellent photography by Gary McGuffin.

An excerpt:

In Ontario there have been 20 appeals in opposition to industrial wind turbine farms brought before the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and 19 have been dismissed. An appeal by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists to kill the development of an industrial wind turbine farm on Ostrander Point was won before an ERT in July 2013. However, the decision has since been reversed by the Ontario Divisional Court and appellants are seeking an appeal before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

George [Brown, of LSARC] commented, “The 240 Bow Lake appeal came close to winning. Based on the Ostrander Judicial Review decision the Tribunal found that in order to prove irreversible harm it was necessary for the appellant to know the size of the populations being harmed. Having found that the 240 appeal failed to prove irreversible harm the Tribunal declined to make a finding on the issue of serious harm, though it agreed with virtually all the arguments on bats submitted by the 240 appeal.

As a result the Tribunal imposed immediate and more stringent mitigation measures on the project – a tacit admission that species-at-risk bats would otherwise be killed, which would be a serious harm.

The Tribunal’s decision is peculiar in that it allows these more stringent mitigation measures to be rescinded should they prove effective. Had the MNR required, or done, a baseline study, or had the 240 appeal had the time and money to do one, to determine the size of existing bat species populations in the project area, we would perhaps have had the final piece of the puzzle required to win.” …

Read the full post here.

Fairview wind project re-posted for comment

Deadline for comments is August 23rd.

The 16.4-MW Fairview project in Clearview Township, which was returned to the developer because of a lack of a heritage assessment, has now been reposted for a 30-day comment period.

The link to post comments is here.

The new documentation from wpd is here.

Interesting note from the EBR site: Since the REA application was received on September 5, 2012 and deemed complete on December 3, 2013, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) determined that Cultural Heritage Studies were not undertaken for the portion of the study area located north of County Road 91. In addition, during the technical review, wpd Fairview Wind Incorporated informed the MOECC that they were making technical changes to the project, including using alternative access to turbines T1, T5, T6 and T8.

HOW IS IT that documents are “deemed complete” and then–oh, my–one of them wasn’t even there?

In other news, the 102-MW Goshen project near Bluewater,  and the 2.5 MW Quixote One project near Tiverton, were approved.


Central Huron wind farm news: don’t renew wind leases!

Not such a great deal for Ontario
Wind company leases protect THEM, not you

The latest newsletter from CHAT or Central Huron Against Turbines contains a lot of helpful advice and timely updates, including the advice that if landowners’ lease or option agreements have expired, or are about to expire, this is an opportunity for landowners to reconsider all their options.

See the full CHAT newsletter here, with times of upcoming court dates, and links to donate to the fight. Wind Turbine News JULY 31-2014 Final A low res-1

Wind farm noise complaints trigger MoE investigation

The wind “farm” or, as we prefer it, wind power generation project, in Brinston Ontario, is the first wind power plant to have 3-megawatt turbines operating … but not for long. Many of the other power projects such as those at Bluewater and in the Niagara Region are specified to have 3-megawatt turbines. Ontario still does not have any protocol for measuring infrasound or low-frequency noise (LFN) which these machines produce.

It is worth noting that Brinston has about 400 homes within 2 km of the wind power project and its 3-MW turbines; in the Niagara Region there will be 4,500 homes, and in Bluewater, more than 2,000.

Here is a report from Brinston where the turbines have been operating for only four months.

Noise complaints lead to monitoring

by Sandy Casselman, Winchester Press

BRINSTON – It has been more than six months since the blades of the South Branch Wind Farm turbines began to spin, leaving more than one nearby resident with some sleepless nights.

“I call when it gets to the point I can’t tolerate it anymore and I go to the basement [to sleep],” Brinston resident Leslie Disheau, former president of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, said. “It is an issue and
I’m not the only person in town with the issue.”

Disheau, who is running for the Municipality of South Dundas’ deputy-mayor seat in this fall’s municipal election, has been staying close to home since the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) installed noise-monitoring equipment at her Brinston Road property last week.

“MOE contacted me and asked if they could put this noise monitoring equipment up,” Disheau said.

The two pieces of equipment measure wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, and more, she said.

She has submitted three separate noise complaints so far. Every complaint must be filed with EDP Renewables’ project leader Ken Little and local MOE representative Terry Forrester to be officially registered.

During EDP’s first open community liaison meeting in March, a Brinston man spoke out about his own sleep disturbances, suggesting the turbines be shut off for a period during the early hours of the morning, beginning around midnight. At that time, Little confirmed that there had been one official complaint already registered. He also said an acoustic audit had been ordered, which he expected to get underway within two months of the meeting.

“EDP has not released their post-construction noise audit report,” Disheau said during an interview with the Winchester Press Fri., July 18.

In conversation with one of the MOE officials who installed the equipment, Disheau said she learned that the provincial authority also had not seen a report from EDP.

“They can take a long as they want,” she said, crediting the Green Energy Act with the responsibility for not specifying a deadline. “There is a 40-decibel limit [on the noise the turbines can make], and we have no idea if they’re in the threshold or not.”

To describe what the sound is like, she used Highway 401 versus airplane noise as an example, pointing out that the highway noise is more of a hum, and when she lived near it, the sounds did not bother her at all.
However, the turbines produce something more in line with the “drone of an airplane that goes into your head,” she said. “It’s a deeper tone, and that’s where you get the disturbance of sleep.”

Explaining the noise and its effects on her is not easy, she said, but it is similar to the sensation people get in their chest when listening to bass guitar.

Disheau said she explained her experiences to MOE’s acoustical engineer, adding that the sensations are at their worst when the blade tips of the turbine across the road (south of Brinston) and the one to the north behind her home (west of Brinston) are facing one another.

“The acoustical engineer said ‘yes, that it all makes sense,’ ” Disheau added. “This is not normal. You should not be in sleep disturbance in your own house.”

Meanwhile, Disheau is the only one in her home experiencing the effects of the rotating blades, as her husband, who shares the second-storey bedroom on the home’s vinyl-sided addition, is tone deaf, and her children sleep on the first floor of the brick-sided main house.

The noise-monitoring equipment is controlled by a switch, which has been placed inside Disheau’s home. When she notices the noise, she flips the switch and the machinery calculates and documents the findings.

“Once everything is taken down, the ministry guy goes through [the recordings] and writes his report,” she said, which will list the decibel readings for various weather conditions (wind speed and direction).

When asked what she hopes to accomplish through this procedure, Disheau said the findings could require that EDP shut down operations during specific times of the day or during specific wind conditions should they prove the decibel levels exceed the regulated amount.


Wind power a wolf in green clothing: US policy blog

We don’t usually re-post blog entries but are making an exception in this case as it is a blog from Capitol Hill in the U.S., with comments on the Production Tax Credit or PTC for renewable power generation.

Note the comment that the subsidies for large-scale renewable power projects have actually been a barrier to smaller, more appropriate and community-based initiatives, including consumers’ own “home-grown” initiatives … that probably wouldn’t have harmed the environment, destroyed communities, and wreaked havoc on the economy.

To quote economics prof Ross McKitrick, in Ontario, wind turbines don’t run on wind, they “run on subsidies.”

Here is the post.

July 25, 2014, 10:00 am

Wind power production tax credit: Wall St. wolf in green clothing

By Curtis Ellis, The Hill, July 25, 2014

The tax incentive for wind power expired last year, and the battle over its extension is now underway. Opponents say the wind power production tax credit, PTC, is a wasteful boondoggle while supporters say it’s crucial for renewable energy and jobs. The Sierra Club calls it “one of the best bets we’ve made on clean, domestic energy.”

But it’s a misplaced bet.  The PTC actually blocks the green energy technologies that hold the most promise.  Rather than helping an infant industry, the PTC is a handout to Wall Street.

Congress created the PTC in 1992, a tax credit of roughly 2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind electricity, to nurture the infant wind energy industry. Government incentives to promote crucial industries are time-honored. That’s not the problem with the PTC.What’s important is that only big investors who want to offset tax liabilities on other investments need apply. The PTC can only be taken against “passive income” – income from other investments. Private equity firms put together investors who need a tax write-off courtesy of the PTC. Warren Buffett admits he uses the PTC to lower his Berkshire taxes: “we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.”

The PTC doesn’t help the average Joe who wants to put a small wind turbine on his ranch to generate electricity and reduce the taxes he pays on his farm income.

But while the PTC boosts Wall Street investment schemes in large-scale wind farms, the fact is small-scale, individually owned generation facilities hold the most promise for renewable energy.

Noted environmentalist Bill McKibben writes, “One of the great side effects of moving to renewable power is that we will replace vulnerable, brittle centralized systems that are too big to fail with spread out democratic energy sources.” Unfortunately, the PTC only encourages more “brittle centralized systems.”

California’s Local Clean Energy Alliance (which includes the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club) concurs. It’s report, Community Power, states “local, decentralized generation of electricity offers many benefits to California’s communities relative to large central-station solar or wind power plants in remote areas.”

The Institute for Local Self Reliance, a green energy cheerleader, says renewables work best “at small scales across the country,” what’s known as distributed generation, “a network of independently-owned and widely dispersed renewable energy generators” rather than “a 20th century grid dominated by large, centralized utilities.”

In fact the Institute explicitly says the PTC is a significant barrier to greater investment in renewable energy. Removing this barrier “makes smaller projects more accessible to the local community, and draws local investors back into the process,” says John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Utilities are also taking local-scale renewable energy seriously.  A report by the Edison Electric Institute, Disruptive Challenges expects small-scale solar and wind “to challenge and transform the electric utility industry” with “adverse impacts on revenues, as well as on investor returns.”

David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, a wholesale power company that operates coal-fired plants, told Blooomberg Businessweek  “the grid will become increasingly irrelevant as customers move toward decentralized homegrown green energy.”

So, if local-scale wind and solar generated close to the end user makes the most sense, why do we have a PTC pushing large-scale wind farms? It’s a Wall Street play.

Environmentalists supporting the PTC mean well, but they fail to see the wolf of Wall Street hiding beneath the green clothes. Ironically, the national green organizations are fighting for the kind of massive generating stations and power lines their local chapters often fight against.

The PTC is an anachronism and an obstacle to developing the decentralized, independently owned power generation system appropriate for wind, solar and other renewables.

Anyone who believes in renewable energy should be happy to see the PTC expire. It’s time to replace this tax write-off for the financial services cabal with something that benefits everyone.

Ellis is executive director of the American Jobs Alliance.

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Potential harm to lynx may halt NS wind farm

But in Ontario, “overall benefit” of clean, green wind trumps everything…even the environment (and common sense)

Nova Scotia seeks info on wind farm’s effect on lynx

Published July 25, 2014 – 6:05pm

A proposed $110-million wind energy project on Cape Breton could be put aside if it’s found the project will have a negative impact on the endangered Canada lynx habitat. (TED PRITCHARD / Staff)

Provincial Environment Minister Randy Delorey wants more information on what impact a $110-million Cape Breton wind energy project might have on endangered Canada lynx.

The minister said Friday he needs more information on the environmental assessment of the proposed 50-megawatt, 30-turbine East Bay Hills Wind Project near East Bay.

“During the environmental assessment review, it was determined that additional information is required to evaluate the high potential for adverse effects within the limited remaining habitat of endangered Canada lynx,” the minister said in a July 25 letter to Tom Bird of project developer BluEarth Renewables Inc. of Guelph, Ont.

“Study methodology and project scope must be developed in consultation with, and to the satisfaction of, Nova Scotia Environment and Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.”

BluEarth is developing the project, located on Crown land 50 kilometres southwest of Sydney, through subsidiary Cape Breton Hydro Inc.

“Cape Breton Hydro Inc. must use this information to better inform the proposed road and turbine layout in order to maximize avoidance of impacts to Canada lynx habitat to the greatest extent possible while balancing other habitat conservation issues such as wetland avoidance,” the minister said.

Delorey also asked for more information on the project’s effects on wetland plants and on the noise it would generate.

Cape Breton Hydro must submit the additional information within a year. The minister will make a decision on approving the project within 50 days of receiving amended registration documentation.

Bird could not be reached for comment Friday.

BluEarth owns or has a stake in wind, hydro and solar projects operating or under development in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

The company’s major investors are the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and ARC Financial of Calgary.

Read the full story here.

Horizon Wind looking at “options” after wind farm contract ended

Contract scrapped

By Leith Dunick,

View larger pictures

A spokeswoman for the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee says she’s ecstatic that Horizon Wind Inc.’s planned turbine farm in Thunder Bay might be dead in the water.

Irene Bond said she learned on Friday that the Ontario Power Authority had cancelled the Toronto-based company’s feed-in tariff contract, essentially ending the agreement to sell energy to the provincial grid.

Bond said the news caught her off guard.

“If this is the news that will end this project, that the FIT contract is indeed cancelled for the whole project, yeah it is a surprise and a very welcome one,” she said.

“I’m just thrilled that this will finally be over. We’ve been at it for five years as a community grass-roots group to educate people about the destruction and the history of the land and that it deserves better than to be industrialized.”

The OPA confirmed the contract cancellation via email on Friday, citing project delays as the main reason for the decision.

“The Big Thunder Wind Park project was significantly delayed due to force majeure events,” OPA spokeswoman Mary Bernard said. “Under a FIT contract, either party to the contract has the right to terminate the contract if force majeure events delay a project past 24 months. The OPA terminated the Big Thunder Park project for this reason.”

According to Bernard, a force majeure is a stipulation in a contract that provides relief to a party when events beyond their control prevent them from fulfilling certain contractual obligations. But it also specifies a time limit to get things back on track.

“The OPA cannot provide details of the force majeure events due to confidentiality obligations under the contract,” Bernard said.

It’s unclear if there is an appeal process available to Horizon at this time.

Horizon Wind released a brief statement saying they have provided notice of dispute to the OPA on their decision to end the contract.

“Pending resolution of the disputed issues, Horizon Wind is evaluating its options,” the statement reads.

The project was first approved by Thunder Bay city council in 2007.

A dispute with the city led to Horizon in 2010 filing a $126-million lawsuit against the municipality when council refused to approve certain turbine locations.

The city later backed down and the lawsuit was tossed.

More recently Fort William First Nation filed a judicial review against the Ministry of the Environment asking for all work on the project to stop until the community had been properly consulted.

The FWFN claim alleged the province failed to consult them about the project itself and the company’s 2013 renewable energy approval.

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau called it a great day, but said the band won’t drop any of its legal challenges until they’re 100 per cent certain the project won’t be completed.

“It’s still slightly early for that,” Morriseau said. “Right now, today we’ve been working on trying to receive more confirmation on what this actually means for the project itself, for the REA application and process moving forward.

“Once we do receive that confirmation we’ll be sure to update both communities on the developments.”

It’s not necessarily the end of the project, she cautioned.

“It wouldn’t come as a surprise if there is an appeal,” she said, adding she thinks treaty rights must come first and be protected and will ultimately prevail.

City of Thunder Bay officials said they too are looking into the legal implications of the decision, after learning of it that morning.

“At this point we’re trying to understand what it means. We have a lease with Horizon, so I’ve asked our staff to look at it,” Commisso said, wary of speaking to specifics of the lease or whether or not he thinks it’s a good decision.   …

Read the full story here.